*A new study ranking the minority hiring practices of seven major Hollywood studios shows that Disney has a lot of work to do.
Thanks largely to its longstanding production deal with Madea creator Tyler Perry, Lionsgate has the best track record when it comes to hiring African-American filmmakers, according to the new report by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative. To get its findings, the researchers examined the 100 top-grossing movies each year between 2007 and 2016.
Sixteen of the 86 films distributed by Lionsgate in that period were made by black directors.
Sony Pictures, which houses the African American-targeted Screen Gems label, employed the second-most black directors with 9 films out of the 155 it distributed.
Disney came in dead last, employing zero black directors for the biggest films it released over the past nine years. Perhaps sensing the backlash, the studio has since hired Ava DuVernay to helm “A Wrinkle in Time” and Ryan Coogler to direct “Black Panther.”
Disney also added five female directors, including Mira Nair (“Queen of Katwe”) and Niki Caro (“McFarland, USA”), as well as four Asian directors.
“When you look across the industry, no one is doing a fantastic job and no one is a top performer,” said Stacy L. Smith, the study’s co-author. “There needs to be some sort of sea change in the hiring process. We’ve seen some minor fluctuations, but no real robust effort has been made here.”
Warner Bros. employed the greatest number of female filmmakers with 10 out of its 174 releases directed by women. Paramount and Lionsgate had the fewest number of female-directed films with three.
The USC researchers found that of the 1,114 directors of top-grossing fictional films in the last decade, just 4% are female. No company released at least one movie a year with a female director. Moreover, a mere 5.1% of directors were black across the top 1,000 movies and 3% of directors of the top 100 films were Asian.
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